Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Backyard spectacular

I’m so excited by the birds in my backyard. Some come every day, no matter the weather.

“I hope she’s provided a better quality jelly this morning.”

Some only show themselves to me for moments…

“Please note my subtle beauty.”

…in all their finery.

“I know it’s hard not to stare at me.”

And this one has only visited once and luckily I was standing in the window with my camera.

“Do you see me?”

If I could, I’d stand all day long at my windows with the camera.

“I’ll pose for you!”

Pretty amazing.


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Looking for spring

Last weekend I got to enjoy a walk in the park with my aunt. And here another weekend is approaching and I haven’t shared with you what we found.

I guess I better get cracking.

A perfect spring day spent out in the woods.

We went to Hudson Mills, a park over near Dexter Michigan, not so far from where she lives, but far enough away we don’t get there very often. It reminded me quite a lot of my favorite park, Kensington, and in fact it’s part of the same park system.

Such wonderful light falling through the new leaves.

There was a paved bike/walking path, and then lots of wooded nature trails to explore. We walked some of my aunt’s favorite trails, looking for evidence of spring, especially a particular dogwood tree she enjoys every year .

We found her dogwood in full bloom, shining in the morning light.

Luckily for us we had sunshine and slightly warm temperatures for our walk. Perfect. These are trails she knows well, and she knew just where to look for the early wildflowers too.

Spring beauty, so delicate with it’s pink stripes, was everywhere.

We walked in the dappled shade of newly leafed trees and watched the ground intently for surprises.

A trillium hides waiting to be discovered.

You could walk right past many of these wonderful bits of spring. But if you’re vigilant, you’ll see very special things.

My mom loved these jack-in-the-pulpit plants. Later in the season there will be red berries too.

It was so much fun when one or the other of us found something special and explained “Look!”

Wild geranium added color.

There was something to see no matter where we looked.

Tiny, deep purple, violets made us smile.

You could spend hours wandering these nature trails any time of the year and see beautiful things.

Purple is such a great color for spring!

We had such a good time walking in the woods together.

Walking just for the sheer joy of being out there.

And when we headed back to the car, we ran into a goose family with one little one trying to be grown up before he or she was old enough to care.

“And another thing! My mama’s gonna whip your….”

It was a fun end to a perfect day at the park.

“Geesh, kids today…”

Can’t wait for our next one!


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Blackened

I went for a walk at one of my favorite parks a couple days ago. It wasn’t a pretty day but at least it wasn’t raining. Or snowing.

Between winter and spring.

I went because I hadn’t been in awhile and because I was feeling sad about a friend of mine who is going through some tough stuff.

A place to rest and contemplate.

When I got to the park there was a warning at the gate about a prescribed burn. That’s when parts of the land are deliberately burned to ward off weeds and nonnative plants.

A scorched earth walk.

Much of the nature trail area was black, which accentuated the hills that I’m always trying to photograph. For that reason alone I didn’t mind walking along the scorched earth, or the smell that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Overlooking his park, wondering what happened.

As I walked I stopped often to take pictures. No surprise. It took me forever to walk the four miles, but it didn’t feel like forever.

Back in the woods spring is taking hold.

It felt wonderful. Spring is arriving, though slowly. Tiny wildflowers are popping up. More will follow.

So tiny you might miss the evidence of spring right under your feet.

I thought about my friend and hope he is able to come on a walk with me soon. He’d find hope in the woods, even the burned parts.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go.

Of course yesterday, listening to the Supreme Court news, I felt sadness overtaking me again. The world seems to be a darker shade of burned right now.

Nothing but darkness.

I’m trying to remember that deep in the woods hope is poking up from under last years debris.

Little umbrellas of hope.

I think I’m going to need another walk real soon.


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Adventure-girl

Katie here. You knew it was going to be me, right? Cause who else do you know that loves an adventure as much as me?

This is mama’s artsy-fartsy image of me racing up a hill.

Saturday mama and I went to walk with my friend Queen Abby’s mom. You might remember that Abby got her wings in January of this year, so her mom has been a little sad. We thought maybe getting to walk together, even without the Queen, might make her feel better.

Abby would have loved this park.

I have to say it was kind of hard to be out there without Abby, but we think maybe she was with us even though she wasn’t physically pulling on the leash.

I pulled on the leash enough for both of us.

It was a perfect day for a walk!

We met at a state park I’ve never visited before, and there were a couple of trails we walked, mostly through the woods. I think I walked over a mile! It was so cold that the mamas wished they’d brought heavier clothes, but I was a happy girl, trotting up ahead of them most of the time, even up the hills!

Not going to look at you, mama!

It was such a pretty park, with winding trails and roads and it even had a campground, which of course mama had to explore.

And then we walked down near the lake. It was much windier there and I wasn’t sure about the waves blowing in. I didn’t want to stand close to them just for mama to take another picture

Don’t like those waves sneaking up from behind me!

So I didn’t.

Nope, not going to sit this close to those waves!

But I chose a spot just a little bit away from the pesky waves and let mama take one more picture.

Hurry up mama, let’s not waste any more time on silly pictures!

And then the mamas sat on a bench and talked and I took a little nap on the cement underneath. It was nice and cool and the wind ruffled my fur and I was so happy!

I wasn’t really sleeping, I was just resting my eyes.

This was the longest car ride I’ve been on since I got sick. At first I thought I was going to the vet and I was scared. But mama stopped at a rest area on the way so I could walk around and stuff. That never happens on the way to the vet, so I began to get excited.

Let’s explore up this way!

And once I was at the park and walking with the mamas I was sooooooo happy! I pranced all over that park and couldn’t stop grinning.

I smiled all day!

Thanks, mamas, for taking me on a grand adventure that was the perfect size for my status! Why, I’m still dreaming about it today!

NOW I’m sleeping! But still smiling!


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And then there were barns

Just last week I was heading up to Michigan’s thumb to attempt an astrological photo shoot. As you read, it didn’t exactly go as planned. But I did get this:

The last shot in a fun photo shoot.

So I’m happy. But I also can’t wait to try it again! The end of the month will be more moonless nights…if I can get the weather to cooperate maybe I can get an even better image. Maybe one with the whole Milky Way in the frame!

But until then there are always barns.

The cow caught my attention. Yes, it’s a real cow. I wasn’t certain at first.

On the way home from my starlit night I took my time, wandering around big farm blocks, teased by wide open vistas filled with barns.

Just a plain grey barn is beautiful too.

There are so many beautiful barns in the thumb!

I’ve shown you this one before, but it’s so cool, it deserves another showing.

It seemed like I’d see one across a huge field, get there, and then see more on the far side of another field!

This is the sweetest little barn.

I wasn’t too sure where I was during most of my barn hunting, but it didn’t really matter — how lost can you get in a thumb?

Classic red always works.

But it wasn’t just barns that I found fascinating. I loved the big expanses of fields, and the tree lines in the distance too.

The pops of white birch and the bit of yellow made this a must take shot.

And there was this guy who moved a wing and caught my eye while I was focusing on a barn over his left shoulder.

He stared at me, decided I was no threat and went back to surveying for food.

What barn was I focused on? Well, these two:

A two-fer.

But there were so many to choose from.

One of my favorites from the morning.

I could have driven around looking at them all day. It was almost as fun, in a different way, as shooting at night out under the stars.

Classic lines.

Almost.

Not a barn. But still very cool.


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Stalked by Mr. Red

Now where was I? Ah yes, tramping around chilly Kensington Park one morning last week. I was checking out the herons on a dreary overcast day with spitting snow and drizzling cold rain.

Standing guard on a rainy morning.

And, as you know, I left the herons after a few minutes of attempting to get decent images in the low light and headed into the woods in hopes of finding skunk cabbage, a sure sign of spring here in lower Michigan.

Have a good walk lady! Don’t forget about us over here!

And of course I hoped to spend some time with my little birds too. Those chickadees and titmice and downy woodpeckers and nuthatches that hang around visitors begging for a snack.

A tiny little one waits in line for breakfast.

Since it was early, and the weather was bad I was probably the first person to venture into their woods that day. I knew the birds out on the boardwalk were hungry, they had already told me so. And the little ones back in the woods were ravenous too.

Just showing off my cuteness before I grab a peanut.

As I was being swarmed by a small cloud of birds I heard the sound of a red-bellied woodpecker high up in the trees. As I fed the little ones I watched him watch me.

I see you have breakfast bits. I’d like to place my order, please.

Down, down, down he moved. Slowly, from one tree to another, pretending he wasn’t interested in all the activity. Not interested in those luscious peanuts or succulent woodpecker suet balls in my outstretched hand.

I’ll take some, lady!

He even did a couple fly-overs, as he gaged the risk versus reward, but he couldn’t make himself land on my hand.

That’s OK, more for us if he stays away!

I waited patiently, camera held in one hand, the other outstretched filled with delicacies. Eventually my shoulders ached and I dropped a few treats on the ground and proceeded up the path and around a corner, intent on getting further into the woods.

I’ll sing for you lady, if I get one more treat before you leave!

He immediately dropped to the ground and gathered up his breakfast. I laughed and went on my way.

But just around the corner a new batch of birds waited for their snacks. I spent quite awhile there, photographing them in the branches and on the grasses near by, as they waited patiently for their turn for a treat.

Please notice how beautiful I am.

Then I heard it. The distinctive sound of the red-bellied, and there he was, just out of reach in a tree near my head. Once again I held out my hand, and once again he flew over but couldn’t trust me enough to land. And once again I tossed him a peanut or two and went on my way.

I finished my first course, do you have more?

Further into the woods a nuthatch was chattering loudly, and I stopped to give her a treat.

Don’t listen to him, lady. The rest of us are much more polite.

A bluejay showed up, and darned if that red-bellied wasn’t far behind.

Hey Mr Jay, pay attention, the lady has treats!

Sighing, I moved over a bridge to the other side of a wetland, one of my favorite places to stop and feed the birds. Several littles were waiting for me and you know who followed me over there too.

Hey, don’t forget about me!

As I was leaning over to put some seed on a bench for everyone to share I heard a gobble to my right. And there was a magnificent manly turkey, with his three wives strutting down the path.

Yes, you can admire my stunning colors. Everyone does.

He was so handsome that I pulled the camera away from Mr. Red-belly and focused it on the big boy showing off just feet away from me.

Thank you for giving us the right of way, lady.

Mr. Red-belly wasn’t having it and he dive bombed my head while I was looking toward the turkey. As the turkey harem moved on down the path I left my increasingly rude stalker with a few seeds and moved on in the other direction.

Hmmmm…what looks good this morning?

And that’s the way the rest of my walk went. Wherever I stopped to feed a hungry bird, the red-bellied and increasingly fat bird followed. I finally dropped a whole lot of treats on the ground and got away.

Everyone was hungry.

I think he followed me for at least an hour and more than half a mile. He never came to sit on my hand but he knew he didn’t have to. If he was just persistent he’d get a contactless treat.

Not all woodpeckers are so rude, lady. Thanks for the suet ball!

Though I describe him as a stalker and a pig, I actually smiled each time I’d hear his call. I’d look for him and there he’d be, a tree or two over from me, acting like he was entitled.

Even the deer thought he was a bit pushy.

I guess he was.

As I scurried away I heard a munching sound in the underbrush. What kind of bird was making a sound like that?

I found this all on my own! I don’t need handouts!

Ahh….the infamous little red squirrel bird. He never blinked as I stood and took his picture. This guy didn’t notice me either.

Well, hey. I found my own breakfast too. Those birds asking for handouts give us all a bad name.

Everybody was hungry that morning, and I realized I was too. No one was standing around offering me breakfast, so I decided it was time to head home and find something to eat.

I should probably say thank you, lady.

But wait! I was in the woods looking for skunk cabbage, looking for a sign that spring has indeed come to lower Michigan. Did I find any? Or was I too distracted by the bird drama swarming my head?

Skunk cabbage poking up from the swamp.

Well of course I found it. And it made me smile too.